10 Fun Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Last updated: December 2nd, 2023 | Originally published: December 2, 2023
Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Key West is the last island in a chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida.  Made famous by Ernest Hemmingway, Jimmy Buffett, Harry Truman, and others. In this article we will discuss 10 fun things to do in Key West, Florida, as well as ideas for camping in Key West, Florida.

The folklore surrounding Key West is as wonderful as the ambiance.  The town is a funky paradise, the stuff dreams consist of:  Blue water, palm trees, good atmosphere, and bad behavior.  Something happens at the end of the line in Florida. As Jimmy Buffet said, “It’s a little bit magic, a little bit tragic, and a good time all the way.”

We love Key West and cannot wait to return (without the kids).  Below are the 10 best things we did in Key West, Florida, as well as some things we look forward to doing next time.

Must Do: Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Must-Do attractions are typically the reason we’ve decided to visit.

1.  Mallory Square

Things to Do in Key West, Florida

The entire island gathers in Mallory Square to watch the sunset.  Grab a seat on the outer wall facing Sunset Key and dangle your feet over the edge.  You will have to get there early, before the crowd files in.  Most folks will watch the sunset over the heads of the people in front of them, which to us is a lesser experience. We found this experience to be our favorite of all the things to do in Key West, Florida.

Mallory Square is also a place where street performers engage circles of tourists, so be sure to join the gawking hoard for some high quality entertainment.

The Key West Aquarium is nearby, as is the Playhouse, the Sculpture Garden, Trolly Tours, and gift shops.  

Our Best Advice: Get to Mallory Square 1.5 hours before sunset. Here’s a link. Enjoy the performers, then grab a seat on the wall before it fills up.

2.  Overseas Highway

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Fun things to do in Key West, Florida

Beginning in Key Largo and running out of road 100 miles later, the Oversees Highway might be the most unusual thing to do in Key West, Florida.  The highway alternates from land to sea, a pleasing rotation of tropical isles and elevated bridges over blue and green water. The pilgrimage to Key West from mainland Florida will build excitement as you wind your way into the Keys.  

If you fly directly into Key West, consider renting a car and indulging a half-day drive up the chain.  The highlights are when the bridges span the larger channels, the longest of which is 7 Mile Bridge.

Related Article: A Complete Guide to the Emerald Coast of Florida.

3.  Duvall Street

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida fun things to do

If you come to Key West you’ll end up here, because it is arguably the most fun thing to do in Key West, Florida.  The bars, the music, the food, all the lyrical Buffet references; the alluring magic of Key West lore is summarized on this iconic street better than anywhere.

You want killer live music at night?  Get it here.  Looking for creative bars and restaurants?  This is the place.  Drunken idiots on mopeds your kind of people? Lots of them right here.  Are you dying to see sloshed middle-aged women in ridiculous t-shirts on six-seater bicycles?  Of course, you are.  We all are.  Get it here.  See you next week.

4.  Hemmingway House

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Fun things to do in Key West, Florida

I’m a huge Hemmingway fan – The Sun Also Rises is one of my favorites — so the tour of his Key West home was special.  A true American icon, Hemmingway lived a colossal life.  He signed on to the Red Cross during WWI at age 18, where he survived mortar fire.  He also survived a car crash, a brushfire, and two plane crashes in his lifetime.  For years he dazzled Hollywood and won a Pulitzer prize.  In his free time he hunted lions.  For the heck of it he hosted boxing matches at the piers of Key West and faced all comers.  What literary master does these things?

The house is a joy to explore.  Some of the things you’ll see:  his writing den, his remarkable pool and “his last penny”, and the famous six-toed cats.  During the tour you’ll learn about his mental illness, his many wives (terrific folklore), how he came to Key West, Florida, and the origins of his incredible novels.

Should Do: Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Should-Do attractions receive a strong recommend, but fall short of must-do.

5.  Feed the Tarpons at Robbie’s of Islamorada

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Robbie’s near Key West, Florida

About 75 miles north of Key West is Robbie’s of Islamorada.  Equal parts beach bar, restaurant, gift shop, and excursion hub, it would be hard to overstate how much there is going on here.  We cannot imagine why anyone would drive past Robbie’s and not check it out.

Lurking near the docks out back is a school of tarpon.  A tarpon is a large, green, tropical fish with a hurking mouth.  A big one can reach 8’ in length and weight over 200 lbs.  Frightening as it may be, you can purchase a bucket of frozen fish and feed them to the dinosaurs.  Just dangle the little bugger off the side of the dock and try not to wet yourself.  Its pure terror mixed with fun and sure to make PTSD memories for the kids.

If you love to travel, we have something we would like to give you. It is our professionally designed e-book and it is FREE of charge. We think it’s pretty great, and we’re hopeful you’ll like it, too. It’s called, “Cultivating a Lifetime of Travel”. Click HERE. and we’ll send it on over!

6.  Southernmost Point

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida fun things to do

There are only four “__ most points in the continental USA”. One is in Angle Inlet, Minnesota, so this is one of the three you might actually want to visit (Lubec, Maine and Cape Flattery, Washington are the others).  It makes a fine photograph everyone should collect.  Chances are you’ll have to wait in line.  Here’s a map. Most consider this one of the best things to do in Key West, Florida.

7.  Breakfast with the Roosters at Blue Heaven

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Fun things to do in Key West, Florida

When you picture that lazy, Sunday morning breakfast with the sand under your feet and acoustic guitar, you are picturing Blue Heaven.  The staff is friendly and the food is tremendous.  The vibe is pure Key West, with all its multi-colored, ramshackle charm. 

Monica ordered the fruit plate with the banana bread AND the Lobster “BLT” Benny (eggs benedict).  I doubt we’ve ever had better.  Ryan ordered the omelet and it was very good, and the kids were happy with their pancakes.  We wouldn’t dare return to the Keys and not stop here.

8.  Sloppy Joes and Capt. Tony’s

Things to Do in Key West, Florida
Get out of the heat at Captain Tony’s

These are probably the two most famous bars in town.  Sloppy Joes sits at the intersection of Greene and Duvall and you cannot miss it.  Captain Tony’s is located a couple hundred feet away on Greene, in the location of the original Sloppy Joes.  

Joe Russell opened Sloppy Joes on December 5th, 1933, the day prohibition was repealed.  3.5 years later he moved his bar to its current location on Duvall Street over a $1 rent raise.  Sloppy Joes was the haunt for Hemmingway and the mob of infamous conches that kicked around at the time.  Joe and Hemmingway were fishing buddies and share a long, storied history.  Today, Sloppy Joes remains very much the same as it once was, serving liquor, and food, and noise.

Captain Tony bought the old Sloppy Joes in 1958, after arriving ten years earlier with $18 in his pocket.  Originally a morgue, it is now a classic dive.

In the middle of the bar is a tree growing through the ceiling. A big tree, actually, upon which 75 people were hanged (because it was next door to the morgue).  It’s considered haunted, but that doesn’t stop the place from packing with partiers on a nightly basis.  

The walls are covered with ID’s, dollar bills, license plates and bras, and if you go to the men’s room, you’ll see the framed lyrics of Jimmy Buffet’s classic song, Last Mango in Paris written by Tony himself.

Related Article: An Honest Review of New Orleans

Could Do: Things to Do in Key West, Florida

Could-Do attractions are worthwhile, but we don’t strongly recommend them for one reason or another.

9.  Garbo’s Grill

Key West, Florida fun things to do

This Korean taco truck serves maybe the best tacos we’ve ever had.  The flavor of their Korean BBQ Taco is insane, just listen to these ingredients:  Marinated beef short rib, napa cabbage, scallions, carrots, daikon, cilantro, citrus soy dressing, and sriracha.  Skip this place and it’s your loss.  409 Caroline St.

10.  Key Lime Pie

Key West is home — probably — to the greatest of all regional American deserts, key lime pie.  They aren’t really sure who invented it, but they have some ideas. Regardless of where it originated, eating a perfect piece of key lime pie is surely one of the fun things to do in Key West, Florida.

You’ll have no shortage of places to order the delicious desert pie.  We recommend Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe.  They sell all things key lime, from candy and soda to spice rubs and dog treats.  Most of all, they serve the best key lime pie we’ve ever tasted.  Blue Heaven also has incredible pies.

Fun Things To Do in Key West, Florida Next Time:

Dry Tortugas National Park

Truman Little White House

Key West Butterfly House and Nature Conservatory

Fort Zachary Taylor

Camping in Key West, Florida

camping in Key West, Florida

If you’re going to be camping in Key West, Florida, your options are limited. And prepare to have your wallet lightened. This is the nature of occupying space in a land of little available space.

However, Key West, Florida is a wonderful place to enjoy the RV Life.

If you don’t own an RV but you’ve considered taking the plunge, check out one of our favorite articles: Don’t be afraid to buy an RV: Be very afraid and do it anyway.

Blue Water Key RV Resort is the one place we strongly recommend. In fact, it is the best RV Park in which we have ever stayed. You’re going to pay through the nose, but camping in Key West, Florida gets no finer.. It is located 13-miles from Key West, Florida.

Leo’s Campground and RV Park is well known and located in Key West. It isn’t nearly as nice as Blue Water Key, but its closer to the action.

El Mar RV Resort does not have a website. Here’s a link to reviews. It is located near Leo’s and gets good word from former residents. We’ve never stayed there.

Sigsbee Campground is a Key West Navy facility that allows select veterans, retired military, and DoD employees to rent spaces. Great place to stay if you have access!

Here is a MAP of the campgrounds in Key West, Florida.

An Honest Conclusion for Things to Do in Key West, Florida

church and camping in Key West, Florida

Key West, Florida is typically viewed as a place to get drunk in the tropics, and any brief visit to Duvall Street will confirm this. It is an adult playground of sorts, funky, paradisiacal and warm.

We were a bit underwhelmed by Key West, if we’re being honest. It was fun and we would definitely go back, but we can’t say we’re jonesing for more time there. There certainly are fun things to do in Key West, Florida, and the vibe is quite fantastic, so it’s a good place to visit, for sure. However, it is our opinion the reputation exceeds what the town delivers.

We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!

Map of fun things to do in Key West, Florida

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